Monday, May 26, 2008

Can a doctor lie?

You may always think of a doctor as the most truthful person.But in many occasions Doctors are forced to lie.
I still remember the face of an elderly Gentleman who was suffering from terminal Liver Cancer.The family did not want to disclose the truth to the patient.Each time he come for a consultation his face search my face questioningly.Several times he had asked me about the gravity of his illness and always I had given him false hopes.Fortunately I was not at his bedside when he died.Few months later his Son came to me for something.I asked him about his father's last days.He said it was terrible.His Dad while dying was blaming his son for not giving proper care.He also blamed me for not finding out the correct diagnosis.
I have heard that in Western Countries they believe in disclosing everything to the patient.In a way that is good.The patient will know the truth and will be able to fulfill his last wishes and die peacefully.In India the Society and the family always tries to hide the truth from the patient.They believe that the patient may not be able to face the truth and may suffer from severe mental trauma hearing the bad news. But I feel disclosing the truth is better.What do you think?


Cris said...

But of course. Theres no point saying the patient wont be able to face it, cause the same patient would know it anyway in his last days. Knowing ahead, they can plan their last days better and do things they might have pushed doing all their life.
I wish people of India understood this better!

And in your case, the family should have disclosed to the patient that they were hiding about the illness all this while for his happiness - no point sending a fellow to his death bed all frustrated at his relatives and his doc!

Charakan said...

Yes Cris,If I am ill I will want to know what is happening to me.Similarly every one should know.

Anonymous said...

A doctor's first duty is towards his patient, next towards the family.

As such, if the patient is going to die, he/she has the right to know.

The only exception that I can think of is in the case of young children who have a terminal illness and who may or may not be able to cope with the concept of death. Perhaps you could withhold the truth from them, but in all other situations, it is better for patients to know what's going on with them.

Charakan said...

I agree with your view theoretically but practically it is not that easy.
Most of the relatives still do not wish the patient to know the truth.I usually give some hints to patients.If then they ask me to come out in open I tell them.

monsoon dreams said...

Depends on the patient.It's better not to say the truth to a patient who is already on the verge of a nervous breakdown.hints may be given.sometimes it is good to reveal the truth.